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I'm going to have some PCB designs fabricated online. I'm quite new to it & I've never actually used KiCad as well for the designing PCBs the whole process. So I have a few questions.

I need through holes wires in my PCB design to interconnect to external circuits & also as jumpers. So far, I've just been doing it with vias & I will adjust the outer radius & hole. Upon looking at options in a certain fabrication website, they have options to fill the via with solder & solder mask. I can rebore the holes, but I won't go for that.

That's when it sunk in that vias are not standard for this purpose & my via sizes are not even standard.

So I started looking for a single circular pad through hole footprint at the library but there don't seem to be any. Should I just create the footprint myself?

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Unlike vias hose hole sides are plated/rivetted through several layers, the footprint I need only need to connect with the single layer it is placed on.

Another question: The website (JLC, but pretend I didn't drop the name) also has no discrete choices for via sizes, only asking for the Gerbers. Does that mean they can put nearly any size of via, meaning they they don't rivet, but electroplate to create the vias?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I use thru-hole "test points" for this purpose. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mattman944
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:50

2 Answers 2

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I would use a generic connector like Conn_01x01 on the schematic and then give it a generic PTH footprint like TestPoint_Plated_Hole_D2.0mm. I would still keep it on all copper layers since it will be much stronger and easier to rework than a circular pad around a NPTH.

And yes, within reason, the board shop should be able to make any size via. The cut sheet of their capabilities should tell you what their minimum size is. The big thing you might run into is too little annular copper around the hole, an extra 50% radius is usually fine, but the board shop will let you know if you need to change it.

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There are no rivets involved- the PCB fab house will drill the hole with a size that is within tolerance after plating. Pretty much any size between the minimum and maximum sizes can be manufactured. Years ago some small makers would limit the sizes of holes to a certain drill rack (or charge extra for different sizes) but that does not seem to be an issue these days. Just ask for what you want.

You can just make a footprint with a single pad on it and perhaps some silk screen markings like a target and wire color. I would suggest not using a single sided pad with an unplated hole because it it will be very weak (the wire would easily yank it off).

Putting a wire without a ferrule into a hole in a PCB and soldering it is also not a very good approach- the wire will break off after not many bends. It's better to run it thorough an unplated hole and laying it horizontally on an SMT pad if you have the room, or crimp a ferrule and use a through hole, or use a connector.

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